An uneasy relationship between light and shade permeates this second release from Canada's Besnard Lakes. From the sleeve's depiction of a coal-black horse emerging from — or is it being consumed by — dazzling flame, to the deceptive sunshine harmonies that carry lyrics laced with deception and vice, contrast resonates through every level. Twinned with the band's deft application of texture, the tensions create a wonderfully absorbing record.
By embracing the unexpected, The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse places itself beyond the perimeters of post-rock. Each track confidently establishes a stylistic crossroads, where the bristle and fuzz of mesmeric sonic adventures meet meticulous arrangements and an ear for delicate touches — exemplified by the mournful trills of trumpet on “Ride the Rails.” Elsewhere, “For Agent 13″ builds from humble beginnings to an almighty falsetto climax, whilst the blustering “Devastation” skillfully mixes sandstorm guitar lines with a choral group that sound primed to usher in a cataclysm. In balancing the joyous highs with weighty melancholia, weaving the rough with the beautiful and securing the fragile accord between soaring and silence, the Besnard Lakes have crafted a startling piece of work.